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United Way of Lancaster County


County assesses student lifeguard prospects in hopes of opening pool (update)

Children and adults enjoy the Lancaster County Swimming Pool in this undated photo. (Source: Lancaster County)

Update (Friday, June 3):

Three candidates for lifeguard positions successfully completed a preliminary skills assessment held this week at J.P. McCaskey High School, according to Bob Devonshire, Lancaster County’s interim director of Parks & Recreation.

The three individuals, all of high school age, are now eligible to complete a lifeguarding class and achieve certification. The county is working with the YMCA of the Roses to run a class for them, Devonshire said Friday.

They successfully completed the following tests:

⦁ 300 yard swim (no time limit)

⦁ Tread water for 60 seconds without using your hands or arms

⦁ Retrieve a 10-pound brick from the bottom of the deep end and swim back to the edge of the pool while holding the brick with both hands in less than 1 minute 40 seconds. 

They and the other candidates who participated “truly gave it their all,” Devonshire said. “It was great to see how they were encouraging each other and rooting each other on to complete the skills.”

Meanwhile, Lancaster Country Day School has reached out to the county with some potential lifeguard candidates, Devonshire said.

Last month, the county announced that despite its best efforts, it could not find enough lifeguards to open the pool at Central Park this summer. It needs a roster of about 24.

The problem is not unique to Lancaster: Lifeguard shortages are being reported nationwide, one of many labor shortages being reported in the wake of the pandemic.

Following a community outcry, county officials renewed their efforts to staff the pool. Devonshire said his team is working daily to identify candidates.

They’re getting close, but he said it’s still too early to say definitively if the pool will be able to open.

“We still need more people to apply and obtain certification,” he said.

Previously reported (Wednesday, June 1):

Lancaster County is redoubling its efforts to secure enough lifeguards to open the pool at the county’s Central Park this summer, officials said Wednesday.

“We’re very hopeful that we’re moving in a good direction,” Bob Devonshire told the county commissioners at their morning meeting.

Devonshire, the county’s director of facilities management, has been serving informally as interim parks & recreation director since the retirement in April of former director Paul Weiss. On Wednesday, the commissioners made Devonshire’s appointment to the latter position official.

Devonshire said members of his team would be at J.P. McCaskey High School Wednesday afternoon to test nearly 50 students with interest in becoming lifeguards. The YMCA of the Roses has pitched in to offer remedial training as warranted, he said.

Students who don’t qualify could be offered other county positions, Devonshire said.

Last month, the county had announced it would not open the pool because it was unable to secure enough lifeguards, despite raising wages to $15 an hour and $16 on weekends, an increase of $4. About two dozen lifeguards are needed to operate the pool at full capacity.

Advocates have urged that the pool be opened, saying it’s an important amenity for the community, particularly for children in Lancaster city’s south-side neighborhoods.